Founder of P4:13 Foundation, Mrs Bukola Ayinde has recalled how she behaved when doctors announced her child has cerebral palsy.
Ayinde who is a lawyer by profession and an advocate for children with special needs said the news devastated her and made her question God.
With time, however, she came to a place of understanding and has been able to turn the situation into a ministry to help parents with children with disability.
She said, “We had done a series of tests and the outcome was she had cerebral palsy and that it is not incurable. We were devastated. My husband took it like a man. He took it well better than I did. But the news made me feel as though I had a death sentence hanging on my head.
I asked, why me?
Her mum on the other hand saw the situation as a handiwork of the devil and encouraged her to take the child for deliverance.
“We had to take the child round for prayers and deliverance. When I did not get the result I wanted, I became more depressed. It was as though God had forsaken me.”
Ayinde said she wondered why despite paying her tithe, serving God faithfully, and being a worker in the church she would be the one that would have a child with such a condition.
“I had questions for God and wondered why he punished me with a child that has cerebral palsy. I had so many questions. I was angry and bitter and yet I had to pray for healing of the child. It was a myriad of feelings, emotions, and confusion. It went on for a while.”
In the course of looking for a miracle, she began an endless journey from one pastor to the other.
I gave up searching for miracle
But an experience changed her orientation.“I live on the island and this pastor was on the mainland. I was introduced to the pastor by a friend. So we went for prayers for my daughter. On our way back, I almost entered into a dish. When I got to my house, I sat down and said to myself, Bukky, what exactly are you looking for?
“I decided I was not going to move around again looking for healing for my child. I decided to hand over the child to God and to just rest. At that moment I started finding my peace. ”
“It was a journey of rediscovery. It was a journey of being still within. It was a journey of who God is and daily seeing little miracles.”
Despite not getting the child to walk, Ayinde said, “I have seen daily miracles. I have seen God coming through for me even when I believe all hope is lost. That strengthened my faith in God. It is actually a big faith to take your child that doctors have said can’t learn and be paying money for therapy. It is a big faith to trust God for the impossible and I have seen him do that. And that has built my faith in God.”
Why we go through challenging times
Ayinde who now seemed to have a good grasp of her situation said as believers we don’t go through things for ourselves. We go through things so that “We can also help those who are coming behind. What I am going through has gone beyond me.
“It has gone beyond my child. I am now using my experience to be a voice for families who have children with disability and for children with disability, that Jesus died for them too.”
She noted that many families have been labeled because they have children with special needs. “That is why we don’t get to see them in church. But then we need to integrate them into the society.”
Ayinde who is the author of Naked and Not Ashamed and a couple of other books said she has had to embark on the journey of educating people on how to handle special children.
Churches need education
Many churches according to her have also not been helping matters. “A friend of mine suggested to her pastor the need to train children’s teachers on how to handle children with disability. The pastor told her, they don’t have such children.
“This is not true because many parents would rather leave such children behind at home. Sometimes the worship leader is trying to energise the people in the church and says, “If you have eye and leg jump up. What about those that don’t have eyes and legs?
She said for people with disability to come to worship God shows they have bigger faith. “We need to begin to change the narrative. We need to show kindness to such children.”
Ayinde explained that “Cerebral palsy is actually an injury to the brain usually before birth, during birth or after birth. In my daughter’s case, she had protein in the urine and she was born preterm.
“She was low weight. She was 1.2kg at birth. She was in the incubator for a while. While in the incubator she suffered loss of oxygen to the brain. That was when she had an injury in the brain. So, it’s an injury in the brain that affects the muscle. At four months she was not able to roll over, hold her head.”
Children with cerebral palsy according to her should not be referred to as imbeciles who cannot think or reason. “Yes, we have children who have cerebral palsy and who also have a learning disability. A child that looks fit also can have a learning disability. So it is not peculiar to cerebral palsy children. But we should always presume that the child with cerebral palsy can learn”